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Grow Your Business Technology

Lenovo Ideapad 500 Laptop: Is It Good for Business?

Lenovo IdeaPad 500, business laptops The Ideapad 500 has a roomy 15.6-inch display.

Lenovo's Ideapad 500 (starts at $500, reviewed at $900) is a well-rounded work machine. Its business-friendly features include solid security, a top-notch keyboard, and ports such as an Ethernet jack and a VGA video-out port. However, the Ideapad 500's short battery life makes it a notebook that's best left plugged in at your desk.

[For more information on how we test mobile devices, visit our testing methodology page.]

The snow-white paint job on our Ideapad 500 review unit looks classy, but it won't appeal to every worker. Lenovo also sells the machine in black. All models have a brushed-metal effect on the interior, which looks great. 

Overall, the Ideapad 500 feels nice and sturdy. The lid doesn't show any flex, and the keyboard deck is solid. 

This machine isn't meant to be portable, but it's far from the heftiest 15-inch laptop we've tested. At 0.97 inches thick and 5.2 lbs., it's noticeably lighter than the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (1 inch, 5.9 lbs.), and about on a par with the HP 15t Touch (0.96 inches, 5.2 lbs.). Toshiba's Satellite Radius 15 P55W is the most portable of the bunch, though, at 0.79 inches thick and 4.96 lbs.

With a roomy 15.6-inch display, the Ideapad 500 offers plenty of screen space to work on. The 1080p panel looks sharp enough, though a higher resolution would have made split-screen multitasking more comfortable. 

Text looks crisp and readable, but colors were washed out, and blacks were muted. The screen could be a bit brighter, too. Topping out at 216 nits of brightness, it's a bit dimmer than the mainstream notebook average of 249 nits. That's fine for indoor use, but a brighter screen would be easier to view in direct sunlight.

The Ideapad 500 has a top-notch keyboard, which is a big perk for workers. Above-average key travel — about 1.65 millimeters — and plenty of feedback on each key press make for a really comfortable typing experience overall. Business users will also benefit from the inclusion of full-size arrow keys, which make it easier to navigate around documents, and the full 10-key number pad will come in handy for number crunching.

The touchpad's matte finish allowed my finger to glide easily, and it performed reliably. But I wasn't thrilled with the click bar beneath the touchpad, which only clicks on the far left and right sides due to a large dead zone in the center. 

The Ideapad 500 cranked out fast performance, even during heavy multitasking that involved editing a large spreadsheet while streaming HD video. My review unit was powered by a speedy 6th-generation Intel Core i7-6500U processor with 8GB of RAM.

On the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance, the Ideapad 500 racked up an impressive score of 6,128. That beats the HP 15t Touch (3,420) and the Toshiba Satellite Radius P55W (5,489). The Inspiron 15 7000 edged out all rivals, though, with a score of 8,800.

The Ideapad 500 was also near the front of the pack on our spreadsheet test. It managed to match 20,000 names and addresses in 4 minutes and 4 seconds, which easily beats the HP 15t Touch (7:59) and the Satellite Radius (5:42). The Inspiron 15 was the quickest, though, completing the task in 3 minutes and 58 seconds.

The higher-end configurations of the Ideapad 500 — including the one featured in this review — come equipped with a discrete AMD Radeon R7 graphics chip. The system scored 76,661 on the 3DMark gaming benchmark test, which is better than the average notebook score of 73,478. That's enough extra graphical oomph to benefit workers who deal with image editing or 3D software.

Unfortunately, the Ideapad 500's weak battery life makes it a poor choice for anyone who plans to work away from their desk. The machine ran for a pitiful 3 hours and 43 minutes in our battery test, which simulates continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi. Rival machines — including the Dell Inspiron 15 (6:45), the HP 15t Touch (5:24) and the Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 (5:14) — easily top that.

The inclusion of Intel's RealSense 3D camera boosts the Ideapad 500's security credentials by enabling Windows Hello facial recognition, which lets you lock and unlock the machine just by looking at it. The technology is more secure and less cumbersome than typing in a password every time you power on your laptop.

Workers will appreciate the Ideapad 500's selection of ports, which includes an Ethernet jack for connecting to wired Internet or secure work networks, and a VGA port for linking the machine to a larger monitor or projector. You also get two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, an HDMI port and an SD card slot for expanding the notebook's internal memory. 

A CD-RW tray, which is useful for installing older software that you might need for work, pops out of the notebook's right edge.

Lenovo sells the Ideapad 500 in a wide range of hardware configurations. The low-end option has a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i3-6100U processor with 6GB of RAM; integrated Intel HD graphics; and a 5,400-rpm, 50GB hard drive, and costs $450. For an extra $100, you can bump that up to a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U processor.

A pricier model provides a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-6500U processor with 8GB of RAM; integrated Intel HD graphics; and a 5,400-rpm, 1TB hard drive, and it costs $800.

The top-end model adds a RealSense Camera and an AMD Radeon R7 graphics card for a fully loaded price of $900. 

Lenovo's Ideapad 500 is an impressively well-rounded work machine at an affordable price. Buyers get fast multitasking performance, an excellent keyboard and solid security thanks to the inclusion of a 3D camera. I wish it lasted a bit longer on a charge, but the Ideapad 500 is still a 15-inch notebook worth buying.

[For more information on how we test mobile devices, visit our testing methodology page.]

Brett Nuckles

A former Ohio newspaper man, Brett Nuckles fled the Midwest in 2013. He now lives in Seattle, where he spends his days tinkering with smartphones, tablets and computers. He loves to think about the intersection of technology and productivity, and how to get the most out of new gadgets and apps. He's also a big fan of vegetarian food and digital painting. In his off hours he spends most of his time drawing and painting sci-fi/fantasy scenes on his PC with his trusty Wacom stylus in hand.